Disqualification of applicant unable to meet Civil Service Commission’s hearing requirements not unlawful discrimination under the State’s Human Rights Law
A candidate for the position of a Nassau County police officer filed an Article 78 petition challenging the Nassau County Civil Service Commission’s decision disqualifying him for the position.
Although Supreme Court granted the candidates petition and annulled the Commission’s determination, the Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s ruling and dismissed the candidate’s petition “on the merits.”
The Commission had appealed two rulings by Supreme Court:
The first was procedural: was the candidates Article 78 petition timely. The Commission contended that it was untimely, arguing that the Article 78 action was commenced more that four months after its determination disqualifying the candidate.
The Appellate Division disagreed with the Commission, holding that the candidate’s petition was timely. Noting that CPLR 217(1) specifies that the limitations period begins to run when "the determination to be reviewed becomes final and binding upon the petitioner," the court explained that "An administrative determination becomes final and binding when the petitioner seeking review has been aggrieved by it."
Here, said the Appellate Division, the candidate “was not aggrieved until he was notified that he was disqualified from further consideration” for failing to meet its hearing requirements.
The second issue concerned the Commission’s exercise of its discretion when it adopted a more stringent audio logy standard than that established by the State’s Municipal Police Training Commission.
The Appellate Division ruled that the Commission had acted within the scope of its discretionary power when it adopted a resolution which modified the Municipal Police Training Commission standards and did not contravene the procedure for the adoption of "rules" in doing so.
As the appointing authority has wide discretion in determining the fitness of candidates, the disqualification of the petitioner for failing to meet those modified audiological, the court concluded that the modified standard was not arbitrary and capricious.
In addition court noted that the Commission’s determination that the candidate failed to meet the modified Municipal Police Training Commission hearing standards constituted an individualized finding that his disability prevents him from performing the functions of a police officer in a reasonable manner “such that his disqualification did not constitute unlawful discrimination under the State’s Human Rights Law.
The decision is posted on the Internet at:http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_01404.htm